There was nothing controversial about Conor McGregor's loss to Nate Diaz at UFC 196. He lost fair and square, and while his shocking defeat was unexpected, I think what surprised fans even more than the loss was the manner in which he lost.
He looked utterly dumbfounded at one point during the fight and, as he put it, was thrown into "panic mode," a mode that up to this point we had never seen composed McGregor in. Ever.
Sure, it's no excuse, but jumping up to welterweight from featherweight isn't easy. Here's what he said at the post-fight press conference:
"I feel I was simply inefficient with my energy. Usually, when I fight a man in the division I am champion in and they crumble under those shots. But Nate took them very well. I think the weight allowed him to take those shots well."
So, let's quickly recap...
The first round was all McGregor and that momentum seeped into the second and final round as well. Diaz was taking more blows to the face than any featherweight opponent McGregor had ever faced.
That additional weight was a huge advantage to Diaz, who naturally belongs in the welterweight division. Whether you blame it on hubris or lack of serious preparation, it's still pretty brutal for McGregor to be landing all of these punches and inflicting minimal damage. He explained:
"I enjoyed the fact that a person could take the shots and keep coming. [Diaz] kept his composure. He went into almost autopilot mode with the shots. His face was busted up. And I went into panic mode. It was just a shift of energy and he capitalized on it. I think with a bit of adjustment and a bit of recognition it must take more than one, more than two, more than three to put the heavier man away. I think if I go in with that mindset at a heavier weight I think I will do fine again."
I think McGregor kind of bought into the hype and might have gotten a little bit ahead of himself, with rumors already swirling of a welterweight title shot against Robbie Lawler at UFC 200.
As he puts it, though, he's humble in victory and defeat:
"It's a tough pill to swallow, but we can either run from adversity or we can face our adversity head-on and conquer it. And that's what I plan to do. It wasn't ideal, I got caught. It is what it is. I'll face it. I'll take it on the chin. And I'll carry on. I'll learn from it. And that's it."
McGregor does think he'll be able to lose weight and get back in the Octagon July 9 for UFC 200, though.
"I'm not cut. I'm simply heartbroken and that's it. I'll pick myself up and we'll figure it out in the morning.
"I will never shy away from a challenge. I will never shy away from defeat. This is part of the game. I am happy to come out there, continue and stay in this fight. I had many chances to not do this and sit and wait. But I went in, I took the fight and it didn't pay off. This is the fight business. It's another day. I'll come back."
It's good to see he has a relatively positive outlook on things. I hope he gets back in the Octagon at the right weight and does his thing.
What do you think?